Apparently Americans are far from alone in being an overwhelmingly Christian country where most people know shockingly little about what scriptures actually say. A recent survey of Italians found that although 88% of them claim to be Roman Catholic, most of them are unable to answer basic questions about the bible correctly. Questions included whether Paul was in the OT or NT, if Jesus penned a gospel, and whether the gospels were in the bible. Of course, odds are good that you’d actually have to have read the bible in order to answer these questions:
Whereas in the US 75 per cent of Americans claim to have read a Bible passage recently, in Italy the figure is 27 per cent. . . ‘In the beginning was the Word – but the Italians don’t read it’ said La Stampa.”
Really, this isn’t very surprising to me. I was raised Catholic and in my experience Catholics aren’t generally encouraged to read scriptures. As a matter of fact, when I was a freshman in college, I became involved in a prison ministry program where we would put on a weekend retreat for some of the boys there. At the beginning of the weekend, the staff leader would ask if anyone needed a bible. On my first retreat I and two of my friends raised our hands. The leader was not happy with us – the bibles he was giving out were mean for the boys! As strange as it sounds, it had never occurred to the three of us (all good Catholics) to bring a bible with on a religious retreat! When I became leader of the group I would make a point of telling newbies to pack a bible to bring with.
It’s a long way from there to here, eh?
HT: Bruce Feiler at Beliefnet